Photo by Kim Groninga

WHAT'S UP

 

Well, 2017 has been busy. I concluded a Professional Development Assignment in May which focused on writing a digital Introduction to Theatre textbook titled, The Theatre in YOU.  One of the more enjoyable aspects of the project included the opportunity to travel and chat with former classmates, colleagues and former students working as professionals in the the theatre and entertainment industry. I encourage you to check out what they've had to share in Chats and Conversations.

 

 I found time last spring to serve as a judge for the IHSSA Large Group All-State Festival (Ensemble Acting) in Ames, Iowa featuring some very talented students. In March, I traveled to Marshalltown, Iowa to serve as one of three quest adjudicators at the Iowa State Community Theatre Festival (IACT) hosted by the good folks of Marshalltown. During the festival I had the opportunity to present a couple of Directing workshops as well. It was great to connect with some people I hadn't seen for a while and also meet talented folks from around the state.

 

In the meantime, I've developed a new web site (www.maycliffshores.com). It's purpose is to promote various creative personal projects and the work of other creative artists I believe in, as well as the creative work of select students. 

 

A recording of all the songs in my musical Storybook Christmas is now available to potential producing organizations featuring several cast members and guests. To learn more about the show, read the script, and listen to a medley of the songs click here! 

 

To make sure I don't have too much time on my hands, this past summer I taught a four-week summer class, presented a workshop on "Taking Stage" to aspiring principals and am currenlty in the process of preparing three new chapters for a fall class and hope to begin prep on a new spring class I've been assigned in the very near future. Somewhere in between I'll need to discover some family time. Other than that I'm looking forward to a very productive 2017-18 academic year and ideally creating a routine of physical activity to continue leading a healthy life. Wish me luck.

Research and Interests

Chats and Conversations

How often does someone look back on their life and say, "If' I'd only known . . . ."  As a professor it is hoped that students will listen to the advice we have to offer. However, it has been my observation and at times my experience, that advice will actually resonate for a student when it comes from a guest artist, even though the topic may have been covered previously in class or in a production environment. And although I've worked professionally, I am first and foremost an educator, so I thought I'd go to the source and talk to those that have been there, done that and continue to work in their chosen craft. 

 

The personal journey, insight and advice may come from actors, directors, a designer, a screenwriter and others from NYC to L.A. and in-between that work within the theatre and entertainment industry. I've included transcripts of our conversation and when available, audio and/or video links.

 

To access Chats and Conversations, click HERE!

The Marc Breaux Story

You may not know the name, but chances are you've seen the work of this kind, creative and generous gentleman, Marc Breaux (1924-2013). A veteran of Broadway, television and film, Marc Breaux is best known for his choreographic work in such films as Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Happliest Millionaire and a host of television and Broadway productions.

 

In the summer of 1999 interviews were conducted with a few of Marc's friends and collaborators such as Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman, Leslie Ann Warrn, Michael Kidd, Andy Williams, Kaye Ballard and others. A few are available on this site in addition to various photos from Marc's life and career. 

 

To learn more, click HERE!

 

(Marc Breaux sketch by Peter Menefee - 1964)

From Tutors to Panthers

Led by College of Education Emeritius faculty member, Dr. James Kelly, twenty-eight current and former UNI faculty, staff and coaches worked together to write Tutors to Panthers: a brief history of UNI athletics, a new book containing 16 chapters chronicling 120 years of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Northern Iowa. Familar names such as NFL standouts Kurt Warner, Bryce Paup, Brad Meester and James Jones, professional baseball players Eddie Watt and Duane Josephson, basketball coaches Norm Stewart and Eldon Miller and many more student-athletes and coaches are highlighted in this text in addition to interesting anecdotes regarding such athletics facilities as Latham Field and the famed UNI Dome. 

 

I had the pleasure to write Chapter One and the history of baseball at UNI. To read an excerpt click HERE!

Storybook Christmas

As songwriting is my first artistic love, I decided a few years ago to embrace what I know best, the theatre, in order to showcase this hidden musical and lyrical side of me. The result was Storybook Christmas: A Musical Christmas Carol. The show premiered in December 2014 at the Oster Regent Theatre, home of the Cedar Falls Community Theater (CFCT) and played to over 1700 patrons! It was by all measures a success. It was the first original production produced by CFCT in the history of the organization. The talented cast was led by Gary Kroeger, former SNL cast member and veteran of television, film and theatre.

 

To read the script, listen to a medley of the music and to find out more, click HERE! 

FDR Speaks

I often tell my students that education does not have to be a laborious task. One method to make research an enjoyable task and to stretch oneself is to embrace our personal sense of creativity and write a play or a musical. (That little show known as Hamilton seems to be a pretty good example.)

 

During my years at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette I had the opportunity to create such a work. The result was FDR Speaks, a two-act docudrama featuring speeches and letters of our 32nd President.

 

To learn a bit more about the FDR Speaks, click HERE! 

Arts, Ethics and the Athlete

Years ago at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette I had the pleasue to create a new course, entitled Arts, Ethics and the Athlete. The purpose of the class was to build a bridge between the arts and athletics and to provide student-athletes a safe and creative environment in which to challenge themselves to examine their personal ethical and value systems and ultimately work on communication skills. It was also an opportunity to bring student-athletes from a variety of atheltic disciplines together and to interact with theatre and dance students and ultimately create an understanding and respect of their respective abilities and talents. 

 

To gain additional insight into the class, click HERE!

 

 

The Theatre in YOU

Another Introduction to Theatre texbook? Seriously? Is another such text really necessary? These may be questions asked by academic professionals that teach such a fine arts offering at their institution.

 

My approach has been to focus less on the academic aspect of theatre and to ask, how may this text be relevant to and of use to the student? To answer this question I embraced the following"

 

"Increasingly in this 21st century, what you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know." - Tony Wagner

 

I invite you to click HERE and read on. 

 

Hope the Firefly

Based upon the children's stories, Hope the Firefly and Dancing with Daisy, this delightful adaptation follows "Hope" and her family of forest friends on a journey of collaboration, friendship, trust and hope.

 

To read the script and check out a couple of sound cues click HERE!

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© Steve Taft